Tag Archives: vegetables

Marinated Veggie Pasta Salad

The potluck is big in my family. At every family gathering there is a tasty spread, sometimes more varied than others. There was the year of six potato salads. All very similar since we all use my grandma’s recipe with our own little twists. But that’s another story. While I love potato salad, I usually opt to bring something for potlucks that is a little more temperature friendly. Call me paranoid, but mayonnaise-based food sitting out in the sun or at room temperature for hours makes me nervous.

This pasta salad is the answer to all of your potluck questions (or what to eat for your midnight snack questions). It tastes great hot cold or in between. It can be made ahead. As the veggies and noodles marinate in the beautiful vinaigrette, they just improve with time. And you get to use up all the extra veggies in your fridge. There is no downside here. Make this. Make it today. Don’t wait for the next potluck. You will love having this in your fridge.

Marinated Veggie Pasta Salad

Marinated Veggie Pasta Salad

Marinated Veggie Pasta Salad

1 or 2 summer squash or zucchini, diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup sliced red onion
1/2 cup olives, halved
1 tbsp. capers
1-2 banana peppers or sweet peppers, sliced or diced
2 tbsp. pesto
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 package rotini

In a large bowl combine pesto, olive oil, red wine vinegar and capers. Add salt & pepper to taste. Add all veggies, stir to coat and let sit for at least an hour.

The veggies. Marinate at least an hour for the most flavor.

The veggies. Marinate at least an hour for the most flavor.

Cook pasta until al dente. Rinse with cool water to stop cooking. Add to bowl with veggies and cheese, toss to combine. Check seasoning and adjust if necessary. Eat!

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Summer Eating, Lazy Cooks, and Tomatillo-Corn Sauté

Someone asked me today if this was the end of the Hungry Monkeys. Definitely not! I’m still here. Admittedly I’ve been excessively lazy this summer when it comes to writing my blog, or cooking, or well, lots of things. It’s summer, and it’s hot. The kids are out of school, we have been out and about (mostly trying to stay cool since our house has no air conditioning) and cooking has just not taken a high priority lately.

I’ve been doing about 75% of my grocery shopping at farmers markets. Most of my shopping trips look something like this:

Summer shopping.

Summer shopping.

And most of the meals I make at home look something like this:

Veggies, fruit, sauteed peppers and poached eggs. Breakfast, lunch or dinner of champions!

Veggies, fruit, sautéed padron peppers and poached eggs. Breakfast, lunch or dinner of champions!

Or this:

Tomatillo-corn sauté, three bean salad and sliced tomatoes with goat cheese.

Tomatillo-corn sauté (recipe below), three bean salad and sliced tomatoes with goat cheese.

If I’m eating like a rabbit, why am I not jumping up and down at having reached my fitness and weight goals this summer, you might ask?  Because…in between my very healthy and wonderful farmer’s market meals I’ve been eating out waaaaay too much, and the other 25% of my grocery shopping is mostly made up of Trader Joe’s buckets of cookies and other goodies.

So. Kids go back to school next week, a regular routine will once again be established to some degree, weather will be getting cooler and my oven will once again be in constant use. And I am looking forward to all of that!

In the meantime, as I look through the photos on my camera that I’ve accumulated over the few times I have cooked something this summer (ahem, 124 photos, yikes!) I will endeavor to remember how I made the delicious food pictured therein and post a few blogs.

For now, I’ll give you the very simple but delicious recipe for the tomatillo-corn sauté pictured above. This is a recipe invented by my Aunt Debi which she made for us when we went to visit her and paint on her wall a few weeks ago. It was so delicious I just had to make it two or three more times when I came home. I add a little red onion to my version. The three bean salad was something that Trader Joe’s was sampling the other day that I was all too happy to copy at home. Simply a can of garbanzo beans (drain and rinse), a can of kidney beans (drain and rinse), and raw green beans chopped up. Combine all three kinds of beans and add a generous splash of rice vinegar and some salt and pepper.

Tomatillo-Corn Sauté

Tomatillo-Corn Sauté

Tomatillo-Corn Sauté
(slightly modified from the original recipe by Debi Hiltenbrand)

6-8 ears of sweet corn
1 cup chopped tomatillos (about a half pound)
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
Salt & pepper
1 heaping spoonful of coconut oil

Heat coconut oil over medium heat. Add onion and tomatillo to pan. Using a sharp knife, slice kernels off of corn cobs. Add corn to the pan. Add paprika and salt & pepper to taste. Sauté over medium heat for at least 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally, until tomatillos and onions are very soft.

And there you have it! Am I the only lazy cook out there this summer? What have you guys been making on hot days?



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Roasted Cauliflower “Fries”

If you can’t eat french fries every night, the least you can do is cook your other veggies up in a way you can pretend they are fries.  This is my favorite way to cook cauliflower (closely followed by my Cheesy Cauliflower Bake but this one is a LOT healthier).  It turns out tender but with a little crunchiness on the edges.  No mushy veggies here.  Even your pickiest vegetable haters will go for this one.

Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower “Fries”

Roasted Cauliflower “Fries”

1 head cauliflower
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. olive oil

*All of the above measurements are completely open to interpretation.  I sprinkle, I pinch, I drizzle.  But some people like to measure so I guessed at how much I put on there.  Feel free to adjust to your tastes.

Preheat the oven to 400˚.  Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.  Break up or chop cauliflower into bite sized pieces and spread on the cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with spices.  Drizzle with oil.  Toss around a bit with your fingers to coat all of the cauliflower.

Raw cauliflower tossed with spices and a bit of oil.

Raw cauliflower tossed with spices and a bit of oil.

Bake for 30 minutes until cauliflower is tender and starting to brown on the edges.  I usually stir around once or twice in there during the cooking time.

Roasted cauliflower, fresh out of the oven.

Roasted cauliflower, fresh out of the oven.

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Brussels Sprouts You’ll Actually Want to Eat

To anyone who tells me they hate brussels sprouts I usually reply with the same answer:  you’re not cooking them right.  Most of these people have had the great displeasure of eating grayish soggy lumps of previously frozen sprouts that have been boiled to death.  And I could not agree more with their whole-hearted YUCK!

I have two ways I generally cook brussels sprouts and both are absolutely delicious.  One is a light saute and steam.  The other, and by far my favorite, is to roast them just like french fries.  This is also the way that is easiest, and they can cook up while you make something wonderful to go with them.  The result?  Firm sprouts with crispy edges, lightly caramelized and flavorful.  If you ask my son Luke what vegetable he wants for dinner, this is usually what he will choose.

Brussels sprouts that your kids (and you!) will actually want to eat.

Brussels sprouts that your kids (and you!) will actually want to eat.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

1-2 pounds fresh brussels sprouts
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
A pinch of crushed red pepper
Sea salt & fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400˚. Trim the ends off the sprouts and cut them in half.  Toss in a bowl with olive oil, garlic and salt & pepper.

Getting ready to roast.

Getting ready to roast.

Spread out on a baking sheet.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring once mid-way through.  Sprouts are done when they are a little brown on the edges and tender to the bite.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

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Mashed Cauliflower

Maybe you’re into low-carb meals, or maybe you just happened upon a beautiful cauliflower at the farmer’s market, but either way you’ve got to try some mashed cauliflower.  Of course, with the addition of cheese and cream and butter, it may not be the healthiest side dish ever, but it’s definitely delicious.  And there is something to be said for changing it up and having something different once in a while!  My kids love this every bit as much as mashed potatoes.  In fact, my son Luke managed to eat all of his, sneak into the kitchen and help himself to all of the leftovers before I could catch him…or grab more for myself!

Mashed Cauliflower

Mashed Cauliflower

1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1-2 tbsp. butter
1/4 – 1/2 cup half ‘n half or cream
Salt & pepper
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Boil or steam the cauliflower until soft.  Drain any water left in the pan.  Add all other ingredients.  Using a potato masher, mash together until well blended.  If you want it smoother feel free to use a stick blender to puree further, but I prefer I little texture.  Taste, add more seasoning if needed and serve hot, sprinkled with a little extra cheese if desired.

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Put Down The Weenie!

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’ve eaten many weenies roasted over a campfire, perfectly blackened in the flames.  And loved every bite.  In fact, I would even say I excel at weenie roasting.  But, sometimes I prefer real food, even when I’m camping.

The view from my campsite, if you tilt your chair back and look up.

I went camping this week at Silver Creek Falls, in Oregon. You’d think camping would lend itself to a pretty healthy diet.  The cavemen probably didn’t suffer from obesity.  I imagine they ate a nice low-carb diet, full of lean protein with the occasional handful of berries and greenery.  I’m pretty sure there are a couple of fad diets going around very similar to that at the moment.  I’m guessing the cavemen didn’t stock their picnic baskets with cookies, mac salad and hot chocolate either.  Too bad for them.

This time around, we kept the cookies and mac salad for lunch (gotta have standards), had lots of fresh berries for snacks and dessert, and for dinner one night I made some delicious foil packet dinners.  I threw them together before I left, stuck them in the cooler, and then onto the fire they went when we were ready. And they were AWESOME!  While I would consider this perfect camping food, I’ve also done the exact same thing in the oven or on the grill in the backyard.

Dinner cooked on fire. No bun necessary.

Campfire Foil Packets

For each packet:
Aluminum foil (I used the heavy duty “for the grill” foil)
1 chicken apple sausage (I like the Aidell’s brand, they have several different flavors), cut into 3 or 4 pieces
Portobello mushrooms slices
A handful of fresh green beans
A few slices or wedges of red bell pepper
3-4 small red potatoes, cut in wedges
Salt & pepper
Olive oil

Lay out a large square of foil.  Put the potatoes and sausage in the center first, and then top with the veggies.  Lightly drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Keep everything in a fairly small area in the center so you have plenty of foil left for wrapping it up securely.

Making the packets. Feel free to vary the ingredients to your tastes.

Bring two ends together over the top, fold several times and crimp to make sure it’s well sealed.  Do the same thing with each end, making a somewhat flat rectangle.  Pile them in the cooler until you are ready to cook.

Make sure you have a decent fire going, but not huge flames, you don’t want to flash fry them.  Set the packets on the grate and let them cook for about 30 minutes, flipping and repositioning every 5 minutes or so.

Cooking dinner! Make sure you play “musical packets” and switch them around so they cook evenly.

Be very careful when you open the packet!  They are full of steam and it can burn you if your fingers are in the way when it escapes.  Carefully open one, make sure the potatoes are cooked all the way through (throw it back on the fire for a few minutes if they aren’t), add extra seasoning if it needs it and then eat!

Top off your happy belly with a cup of hot cocoa by the campfire.  I forgot my marshmallows.  Darn it.  I guess I’ll have to go back.

Relaxing by the fire after dinner. So nice!




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